Obesity is a worldwide epidemic. No, it’s not contagious. But it may as well be since every other person you meet seems to be afflicted by this disease. All the major health organizations on the planet from the Center for Disease Control to the World Health Organization are trying to create awareness about the adverse health effects of obesity. But why all the hoopla? Can the health effects of obesity really be as bad as everyone makes it out to be?
Absolutely! Obesity is more prevalent than most of us realize and the health effects of obesity are worse than you think or can imagine.
In fact, no amount of reading and research will prepare you for the actual experience of the health effects of obesity. The health effects of obesity are much, much worse than the health effects of smoking or drinking, or even smoking and drinking put together.
If you are overweight and heading towards obesity, then you should definitely know about the health effects of obesity to encourage you to double your efforts to lose those extra pounds. If a loved one is suffering from obesity – and yes, it is suffering – then perhaps some of these horrendous health effects of obesity will motivate you to be more supportive in their weight loss efforts.
The health effects of obesity are numerous. And it’s not all cut and dried either. Obesity creates health complications which leads to other health conditions which cause further complications. It’s a vicious cycle of disease and illness that will plague the sufferer till he or she starts to lose weight. It is impossible to discuss every single one of the health effects of obesity. You can take it for granted that the health effects of obesity are wide-ranging and indeed affect you from head to toe. If there’s a disease out there, obesity increases your risk for it a hundredfold.
The worst health effect of obesity is how it increases your risk for all these health conditions. And each health condition raises your risk for other health conditions. It’s all connected, so do not expect that obesity will cause just one or two negative health effects. If you are significantly overweight, it is more than possible that you will suffer from most or perhaps even all of the health effects of obesity discussed here. And this is backed by research which shows that obesity increases your risk for chronic disease by 70%! Following are some of the health effects of obesity that you should be concerned about if you are overweight.
Hundreds of studies conducted over the last two decades have said the same thing over and over – obesity and heart disease are directly connected. A person’s weight is directly proportional to his or her risk of developing cardiovascular problems such as angina, arrhythmia, heart attach and stroke. Obesity also plays a significant role in raising levels of bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol, as well as raising the risk for high blood pressure and blood inflammation – all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
High Blood Pressure or Hypertension
When you are obese, your heart has to work harder to pump more blood through your system. Your system and organs need more blood than usual since they are working over-time. Obviously, this over-load leads to hypertension. Obesity also causes inflammation of blood vessels. Inflammation of any kind is never a good thing. In addition, the greater deposits of fat around the arteries put a lot of pressure on them, thus increasing blood pressure. Now high blood pressure is actually one of the risk factors for heart disease. So if your obesity causes your high blood pressure, it makes you a prime candidate for cardiovascular issues.
As the name suggests, gallstones are solid clusters – made mostly of cholesterol – that form in the gallbladder. It can cause pain and be very uncomfortable. Since one of the health effects of obesity is that it causes higher levels of LDL or bad cholesterol in the blood, it stands to reason that obesity will increase the risk for cholesterol-related health conditions. Even if obesity does not contribute to gallstones, it can definitely cause the gallbladder to grow larger, and prevent it from doing its job.
On average, about 85% of all people suffering from diabetes are obese. So even if there wasn’t tons of research to support this connection between obesity and diabetes, the link is quite obvious. Although the reasons for the link have not been uncovered, there are several very logical and educated assumptions. One of them is that the higher fat content in the cells causes them to change on a molecular level, causing them to become insulin-resistant. Now insulin is responsible for carrying sugar from the blood to the cells, and the cells use this sugar for energy. But if the cells are insulin-resistant, they will not use the sugar, which will cause the sugar to remain in the blood and thus lead to high blood sugar levels.
The extra weight on the body is extremely taxing on the joints and bones. This causes the joints to wear down over time, thus causing osteoarthritis which will cause pain mainly in the knees and lower back. As we have seen, obesity also increases the risk of inflammation. This is another risk factor for osteoarthritis.
Some Types of Cancer
While obesity is not a cause of cancer, in some cases it can increase the risk of certain cancers in those who are already predisposed to the condition and who are already at high risk due to genetic factors or abnormal growths. Initial reports state that one of the health effects of obesity is that of an elevated risk of breast cancer and colon cancer, and perhaps even uterine cancer. The reasons for the increased risk are unknown. Theories suggest that the extra weight on the body is a burden on the entire system because of which the body cannot fight off the cancer.
Another of the health effects of obesity related to cancer is that obese patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy do not respond as well as their normal-weight counterparts. They are also slower to recover after each treatment session.
Sleeping and Breathing Disorders
Remember that obesity causes the whole body and all the organs to work very, very hard. It also reduces space for your organs to be comfortable. It is not surprise then the one of the health effects of obesity is that it causes sleeping disorders and breathing problems.
- Sleep apnea is one of the conditions that may be caused or exacerbated by obesity. This is when a person stops breathing from time to time while he or she is sleeping. This means that there is less oxygen going to the brain at night, the quality of sleep suffers, and the person is fatigued during the day and has difficulty concentrating on even routine tasks. Obese people usually have more fat around their neck, which may constrict the airways and cause further difficulty breathing at night.
- Those suffering from asthma will find that their breathing worsens considerably when they are obese. This happens because there is excess weight around the lungs which make them have to work harder to breathe.
The health effects of obesity extend to pregnancy as well. An unhealthy body will lead to an unhealthy pregnancy that is rife with pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, often both. We have already seen that the health effects of obesity increase the risk for high blood pressure and diabetes even in normal women and men. During pregnancy, they body is much more vulnerable to developing adverse health conditions. So if you are an obese woman and have managed to stave off the other negative health effects of obesity when you were not pregnant, you will definitely experience the health effects of obesity when you do get pregnant. It’s not just you who are at risk. The health effects of obesity will put your baby at risk too. There is a higher likelihood that your baby will be born prematurely, have low birth weight, perhaps birth deformities, and be at an increased risk for diabetes later in life.
The more your organs have to work in difficult conditions – which is 24/7 when you are obese – the faster they age. Everything from your joints to your heart, liver, kidneys etc. will be affected by obesity and they will all start to age before their time. You will immediately see the effects of this as your skin starts to lose its glow, your metabolism gets slower, you fall sick more often because your immunity is breaking down, and you do not recover as quickly as you once used to. You will also feel tired a lot – a reflection of what your body is feeling from the burden of the extra weight.
As you can imagine, the previous point of the health effects of obesity – premature aging – can very well lead to premature death if steps are not taken to reverse obesity. Obesity can rob you of precious years of your life. The more weight there is on your body the harder it is for your organs to work. And the more they have to work the more tired they get. Now with people of normal weight, their organs can relax and rejuvenate much more easily when they sleep or relax. However, with people suffering from obesity, their organs are working over-time, all the time and have to work harder than is usual even during sleep. This extreme stress can cause them to age rapidly and even stop functioning altogether. The good news is that it is never too late to reverse such fatal health effects of obesity. Studies suggest that losing as little as 10% of your current weight to begin with can initiate the reversal, in addition to cutting your risk for the health effects of obesity mentioned above.
Blow to Psychological Health
All the health professionals will talk about the physical health effects of obesity. But few will address how badly obesity can hamper self-esteem, which in turn affects daily life. It seems like these psychological health effects of obesity are taboo and only spoken of in hushed whispers at support-group meetings. This may just be the most damaging of all the health effects of obesity because it makes people feel like they are worthless.
We are constantly fed standards of beauty that we feel pressured to live up to. Even stunningly beautiful people who are the epitome of beauty have their insecurities, so rampant and deeply-embedded are these impossible standards. You can imagine how much harder it must be for someone suffering from obesity. The lack of confidence in people suffering from obesity affects all areas of their lives from relationships to regular interactions to work. Plus, it is quite common for people of normal weight to socially ostracize those who are obese. This kind of stigmatization is starting to be recognized as a form of racism by judicial courts around the world now. But that does not change the fact that it still exists and has a debilitating effect on obese people. Children who are obese have an especially hard time because other children can be extremely insensitive and make caustic remarks that leave deep wounds. It is not that rare for children suffering from obesity to commit suicide or indulge in high-risk behaviors because of peer pressure and bullying.
As mentioned earlier, these are just a few of the health effects of obesity. And even just this handful will cost you plenty not just in terms of money for medicine and hospital visits/tests/stays, but also your quality of life. You obesity will prevent you from being at peace, and it will cause worry to your family and loved ones as well. Find some motivation and start losing weight now so that these health effects of obesity do not literally take over your life.